Greg Berman who leads the Center for Court Innovation is among the nation’s great thinkers about courts so that when he makes observations people should read them. He recently posted on his blog the following commentary:
One of the more enjoyable assignments I have had of late was provided to me by the good folks at Quid Pro Books, who asked me to write the foreword for a new edition of Malcolm Feeley‘s Court Reform on Trial: Why Simple Solutions Fail.  I was flattered by the ask.  I am a big fan of Feeley’s work, which also includes the classic The Process Is The Punishment.

It was a pleasure to be given an excuse to re-read Court Reform on Trial, which was one of the few books that directly influenced Trial & Error in Criminal Justice Reform.  As a teaser to encourage sales of the reprint when it becomes available, I offer this small taste of Feeley’s prose from Court Reform on Trial:

“Whatever one’s goals, there is a tendency to expect too much of the courts.  Higher standards can lead to improvements, but exaggerated expectations can also foster disillusionment…Courts cannot solve the problem of crime or event make a significant dent in it.  Thus, in a very real sense the courts — charged with handling society’s failures — will always fail.  What the family, the church, the workplace, and the school cannot do, neither can the courts.”


One Response to “Court Reform on Trial: A Commentary by Greg Berman of the Center for Court Innovation”

  1. Roger Hanson Says:

    Judge Kevin Burke does a the judicial community a favor by drawing attention to Malcolm Feeley’s claim In Court Reform on Trial that courts cannot solve the problem of crime. True.
    Yet, is a solution the appropriate goal for any social reform effort? Solutions rely on deductive rules of logic to reach undeniable conclusions. In contrast, responses incoporate the constraints of reality and sets the objective as resolving a problem for practical purposes. The alternatives are not just solutions or failure. They are measurable responses to insoluble problems.


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